Minister says it is 'entirely reasonable' to visit shops beyond five miles as non-essential retail reopens

Retailers can only reopen if shoppers can maintain social distancing. Credit: PA Images

It is "entirely reasonable" for shoppers to travel more than five miles to reach retail centres, the Minister for Economy has told ITV Wales.

Ken Skates made the comment on the eve of non-essential shops reopening in Wales, on Monday.

Some retailers saw huge queues outside their shop fronts in England as they opened their shutters on 15 June. A week later, Wales will follow suit and similar scenes are expected in Welsh towns and cities.

"The intelligence that we received back from what happened in England suggests that whilst there was a very initial boom in demand for goods that tailed off somewhat during the first week and then picked up towards the weekend.

"We would expect therefore that sort of trend to be mirrored in Wales." Ken Skates, Economy Minister.

Unlike England, Wales' stay local rule remains in place. Government guidance indicates residents should only travel within a five mile radius of their home. Some business owners have expressed concern about this.

Business owner Lloyd Ridgwell says his customers usually travel from further than five miles away. Credit: ITV Wales

Lloyd Ridgwell told ITV Wales that his customers would usually come from further afield than five miles.

But Ken Skates confirmed it would be “entirely reasonable” to go to an out of town retail centre beyond five miles from someone’s home. “If you don’t have an opportunity within five miles to access such premises, such facilities, then you may be able to travel further, you’d be entitled to do that. This is not the law, this is guidance.”

Ken Skates MS says people in Wales should use Credit: ITV Wales

When pressed on the Government’s position to allow people to shop beyond the five mile restriction but not visit family members or loved ones further afield, the Minister for Economy and Transport reiterated Mark Drakeford’s suggestion that those with a “compassionate” reason to make such a journey, could.

Only those shops that can adhere to social distancing measures, where customers and workers can stay two metres apart, are allowed to reopen from Monday 22 June. Smaller businesses may face a longer wait.

While the Economy Minister said Wales cannot risk a second wave and wants to avoid localised spikes of coronavirus, he confirmed the Welsh Government is looking into how smaller premises can reopen.

In relation to cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs, he told ITV Wales “we’re looking at how we can use the public realm, high streets and town centres, the roads that run through our urban spaces as spill out space, so that people can adhere to social distancing while still accessing those venues that they hold most dear to them.”

This work comes alongside plans to give councils in Wales money to spend on adapting roads and pavements to make sure people can stay two metres apart. Local authorities will have access to a £15m pot to widen walkways and create more space for cyclists.

From Monday, people in Wales can also get married - as long as they maintain social distancing.

Some restaurant owners has written to the Welsh Government regarding plans to reopen. Credit: PA Images

The impact of coronavirus on the economy is expected to be “as great, if not greater than anything we’ve dealt with during the course of devolution so over the past 20 years,” Ken Skates MS told ITV Wales.

Reopening shops is just the start on the road to recovery.